NEW YORK – This road trip always loomed as difficult long before the 2022 season began and the Astros and Yankees had shown they are the two best teams in the American League. Seven games at two places where the Mariners have struggled to find wins to close out a stretch of 13 in 13 days coming out of the All-Star break didn’t portend for success.
And save for one game with a crazy comeback, the Mariners have yet to find much success.
But what they’ve found in their first four games at Minute Maid Park and in their first of three games at Yankee Stadium, a less-than-competitive 7-2 loss, is that their execution must be better because their margin of error from success to failure is diminished due the differences overall experience and established talent and depth.
“Not a ton talk about tonight,” manager Scott Servais said. “Not a great way to start the series other than the fact that we should be more rested in our bullpen after a couple of days (in Houston). That should help us tomorrow.”
If the Mariners were to make it to the postseason – something that shouldn’t normally be assumed based on past seasons of failure but is allowable given their place in the standings – and then win a wild-card series to advance into the divisional rounds to face either the Astros and Yankees, how do they beat these teams that seem so demonstrably better at times?
To be fair, the Mariners haven’t put their best available lineup on the field for these two road series, something that’s been said since Mitch Haniger’s ankle nearly broke on a swing in early May. And they’ve played their last two games without Julio Rodriguez and Ty France – their two best hitters – to make the lineup look more Cactus League than big league.
Seattle got another middling start from Marco Gonzales, who like most pitchers this season, struggled to keep the top of the Yankees order off base and in the ballpark.
Knowing the bullpen was taxed and he needed to get deep into the game, Gonzales gave up five runs in the first two innings. His outing started with a single from D.J. LeMahieu, a double that just missed being a homer from Aaron Judge and a three-run bomb from Anthony Rizzo that landed somewhere near New Jersey.
In the second, Judge got that homer he just missed in the first inning. After LeMahieu worked a two-out walk, the league-leader in homers made it 43 on the season with a deep blast into the visitor’s bullpen.
Gonzales allowed just one more run in his outing, working into the sixth inning but only recording one out. His final line: 5 1/3 innings, giving up six runs on nine hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
Trying to get the Mariners as many outs as possible before being forced to turn to the bullpen, Gonzales threw a season-high 110 pitches.
Matt Festa gave Seattle 1 2/3 innings of scoreless work, but Jose Trevino clubbed his second homer of the game – a blast to dead center off Ryan Borucki – to make the score more fitting of the lopsided nature of the game.
Seattle scored a pair of runs off starter Domingo German, who was making just his third start of the season after missing the first 98 games due shoulder-impingement syndrome.
With his team down 3-0, Kyle Lewis hit his first home run since returning from the concussion injured list. Lewis hit a line drive over the wall in left-center to cut the lead to two runs.
In the fourth inning with the Mariners down 5-1, Abraham Toro doubled into the right-center gap with two outs and scored on Adam Frazier’s single to right field.
But Lewis grounded out with two outs and the bases loaded in the third and hit into a fielder’s choice with two outs and runners on first and second in the fifth inning.